Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Catalan independence campaign kicks off as Barcelona gives backing

Catalonia: More than 700 Mayors Called to Court Catalonia Begins Independence Campaign as Spanish Government Threatens Crackdown
Edmund Wade | 15 September, 2017, 00:33

Catalonia's pro-separatist government has asked the northeastern region's 947 mayors to provide facilities for polling stations for the independence referendum. Some eight hours later in Cambrils, a city 120 kilometres south of Barcelona, an Audi A3 auto rammed into pedestrians, injuring six civilians - one of them critical - and a police officer, authorities said.

Spain's public prosecutor has summoned more than 700 Catalonia mayors to appear for questioning over their support for a banned independence referendum. Pro-independence groups in Catalonia say the vote will go ahead even though the Constitutional Court has suspended it ahead of a ruling on its legality.

While many Catalans have long stressed the region's differences from the rest of Spain, the current push for independence began in earnest 2010 when Spain's Constitutional Court struck down key parts of a groundbreaking charter that would have granted Catalonia greater autonomy and recognised it as a nation within Spain.

Regional president Carles Puigdemont tells broadcaster TV3 the national government in Madrid has created a "climate of hostility and paranoia" around the planned ballot.

Rajoy said on Wednesday: "If anyone urges you to go to a polling station, don't go, because the referendum can't take place, it would be an absolutely illegal act". So far, 712 of a total 948 municipal leaders have said they would allow public spaces to be used for the referendum, according to AMI.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government has vowed to do everything in its power to stop the referendum.

The state prosecutor's office said the chiefs of the three judicial police forces in Catalonia, including the regional Mossos police force, were being briefed on their legal obligation to stop any actions towards holding a referendum.

Later on Wednesday, the Catalan government's website for information on the vote, referendum.cat, was taken offline. They argue that Spain's 1978 constitution bars regional governments from calling independence referendums.

He said the rights of all Spaniards will be upheld against "whoever steps outside constitutional and statutory law".

Catalonia, which is roughly the size of Belgium, accounts for one-fifth of Spain's economic output.

Spain's central government is using judicial measures to try to stop the planned October 1 ballot, which it insists is unconstitutional, but regional authorities are trying to sidestep the legal obstacles.

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